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Candy Bomber (Junior Library Guild Selection) Hardcover – July 1, 2010

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Candy Bomber (Junior Library Guild Selection) + Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot + The Berlin Candy Bomber
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1130L (What's this?)
  • Series: Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge; New edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580893368
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580893367
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-6 Tunnell brings to life a little-known post-World War II story. What started as a single pilot's car tour of bombed-out Berlin turned into an international campaign to help lighten the suffering of the children of West Berlin. The time was 1948, and the Soviet Union had closed all land access to the isolated Free World sectors of West Berlin in an attempt to starve the people into accepting Communist rule. On an impulse, a C-54 cargo pilot, Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen, shared the only two sticks of gum he had with a group of about 30 children. What started as a somewhat clandestine candy-dropping operation by Halvorsen and his buddies eventually became a USAF-sanctioned operation. As the airlift of food and fuel continued for almost two years, tons of candy were dropped (using tiny parachutes) for the children who waited in the flight path below. The text is liberally illustrated with black-and-white photos, copies of letters, and a diagram of how the flight patterns worked. Endpapers contain color reproductions of a few of the many pieces of children's artwork that Halvorsen received as the Chocolate Pilot, Uncle Wiggly Wings, and Dear Onkl of the Heaven. Vocabulary is relatively easy, but adequate for the topic, which makes the text flow easily. The book concludes with extensive biographical, historical, and author's notes. This is a real treat a World War II title with a happy ending. Make it a first purchase. Eldon Younce, formerly at Harper Elementary School, KS
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Curious about the city into which he ferried goods during the Berlin Airlift in 1948, pilot Gail Halvorsen stayed over to visit, met some children, and offered to drop candy and gum when he next flew over. This simple idea grew into a massive project with reverberations today. Tunnell tells this appealing story of a cold war soldier who made a difference clearly and chronologically, weaving in just enough background for twenty-first-century readers and illustrating almost every page with black-and-white photographs, many from Halvorsen's own collection. Opening the book with a shot of a nine-year-old boy looking for the plane that will wiggle its wings, the author captures young readers with the very idea of the chocolate pilot and keeps them with a steady focus on the German young people, including their letters and drawings. He concludes with a chapter describing Halvorsen's successful military career, his meetings with children who caught the candy, an anniversary drop, and more—highly satisfactory results from his spontaneous good deed. Halvorsen contributes a prologue; biographical, historical, and research notes add information; and selected references, including further-reading suggestions (though no source notes), close out this accessible and positive portrayal of a serviceman who wasn't on the battlefield. Irresistible. Grades 4-7. --Kathleen Isaacs

More About the Author

I love books! This love affair began when I was small. My grandmother who raised me would read to me every day: fairy tales, comic books, and wonderful picture books like Caps for Sale and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. I soon discovered that books were the world's best teachers and entertainers. So, naturally, I grew up wanting to spend my life working with books.

When it came time to pick a profession, I decided to study law (which doesn't involve the kind of books I like). I was well into my university course work to prepare me for law school when something happened that changed my plans. At the time, I was working for an automobile dealer in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the service manager asked me to deliver a car to a customer at a nearby elementary school. The second I walked through the school doors, I was flooded with the strangest feelings. I remembered my favorite books and my magical childhood years. The next day I changed my major to education. Since then, I've completed several degrees, all of them relating to reading, children's literature, and teaching.

As with many avid readers, I harbored, since childhood, the wish to create my own stories. I wrote off and on when I was young, and then tried my first novel during my middle twenties (it was rejected by twenty or thirty publishers). Then for a number of years, instead of creating stories I channeled my writing efforts into professional educational books and journal articles. All the while, my desire to write books for young readers stayed strong. In the early 1990s, I found my way back to writing stories. My first effort was the manuscript for the picture book Chinook!, which was accepted on my third submission attempt by Tambourine Books (William Morrow).

Because I teach children's literature courses at a university, people sometimes ask if my teaching helps me to be a better writer. After all, I teach my students about children's books, what makes some books "better" than others, and I have, as a part of my professional endeavors, critiqued books for review journals. Therefore, I should know what makes for good writing and what doesn't. However, when I began writing my own books I discovered critiquing someone else's work is an entirely different process than creating your own stories. Perhaps I was simply too close to my own work, which made applying what I thought I knew about quality literature difficult. In any case, I had a lot to learn (and the learning has just begun!) about the creative process. I guess writers are born perhaps more than they are made. (I feel the same way about teachers.) So, part of the challenge has been to find and cultivate any spark of literary creativity with which I might have been blessed.

For more about Michael O. Tunnell, see the following sources:

Something About the Author, volume 103. Edited by Alan Hedblad. The Gale Group, 1999, pp. 168-173.

The Eighth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators. Edited by Connie Rockman. H.W. Wilson, 2000, pp. 529-533.

Something About the Author, volume 157. The Gale Group, 2005, pp. 247-252


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
I highly recommend this book for any reader, child or adult.
It is a great story with lots of WW II history, making it a very interesting read.
Carol P. Kaspar
It moved me, warmed my heart and made me want to be a better man!
John Kirkman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on July 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Michael O. Tunnell's inspirational account of how one person can make a difference in the world. Tunnell tells the story of U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Gail Halvorsen, who was one of a group of U.S. and British pilots transporting food to the citizens of West Berlin in 1948 during the Soviet blockade of West Berlin. Tunnell provides concise and well-written background on what happened in Germany at the end of the war and how this blockade came about in the first place.

When Halvorsen first encounters the children of West Berlin, he is struck by their dignity and their commitment to freedom. After briefly conversing with a group of children on the other side of the airfield fence, he decides, on a whim, to give the children the two sticks of Doublemint gum in his pocket. Breaking them in half, he is sure that a fight over the four little sticks will break out among the candy-starved children. Instead, he is astonished to see that there was no fighting. Suddenly, Halvorsen had an inspiration; why not drop some gum and candy on his next trip to Berlin? He told the delighted children of his plan, and they asked how they would recognize his plane. Halvorsen explained that he'd give them a signal--"When I get overhead, I'll wiggle the wings."

Halvorsen began his drops by asking his buddies to donate their personal candy rations, rations that were as valuable as currency in Germany. Not asking permission of his superiors, Halvorsen started his candy drops, using handkerchiefs to make parachutes in order to drop the candy in small packages. Soon mail began to pour in for Uncle Wiggly Wings or the Chocolate Pilot, and Halvorsen's superiors discovered his secret.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia E. Downes VINE VOICE on October 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm always looking for children's books that help explain historical events in a kid-friendly way. Candy Bomber fits that criterion for World War II and its aftermath.

The book is set in 1948 and is about Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen, C-54 cargo pilot. One day, on a visit to Berlin, he shared gum with a group of children. He told them he would drop candy and gum (using tiny parachutes) over the city next time he flew over, as long as they would share it. The kids agreed. He told them they would know which was the right plane because he would "wiggle the wings."

Each time he passed and dropped candy, more kids were waiting. Letters began to pour in to the airport thanking them for the candy. It was now public. Instead of being reprimanded, his candy airlift eventually became a USAF-sanctioned operation that lasted almost two years. In that time, tons of candy was dropped to the children who waited below.

The story is fun, the text is easy to read and the black and white photos are interesting for both kids and adults. There's a biography of the pilot and a historical note about World War II in the back of the book.

Candy Bomber is wonderful family reading, as well as independent reading for students who are in grades 4 and up.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By LibraryLady on February 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Gail Halvorsen was a pilot during the Berlin Airlift. He decided to give some candy to a group of German children he saw standing behind the fence at the end of a runway at an airfield in West Berlin. When he spoke to them he realized that they were not only hungry for food they were also hungry for assurances of their freedom from Russian domination. In response to what he saw he decided to send little bags of candy parachuting down from his plane on each of his airlift runs. Thus began a gift of heart that touched the world.

I am always looking for historical literature for the boys in my elementary school and this one is perfect for the boys and the girls. My students love stories about WWII and its aftermath. They are intrigued by the battles, the ships, tanks, and equipment. This book also shows the effect of war and its aftermath on the civilians trapped by the battles. Mr. Tunnel uses Mr. Halvorsen's memorabilia and historic artifacts so that we also learn how his actions affected the recipients of the candy in the short run and over time.

I love this story because it shows the human side of a real person who wanted to bring some kindness and sweetness into the lives of the children he met. Gail Halvorsen became a real hero, and, according to the book, he continues to be a hero bringing humanitarian aid to places all around the world.

I highly recommend this book for any reader, child or adult. It is a fascinating story that will just make you feel good.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By taz on January 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is such an awesome, inspirational story everyone should read. There are many people that don't even know about the Berlin Airlift let alone the "Chocolate Pilot" and the school history books don't even mention that part of history. This book reminded me that children especially need to learn about what happened immediately after WWII to have understand the world today. This is a very easy book for fifth graders plus to understand and enjoy. It's also a great book to read aloud and discuss with kids.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Kirkman on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I downloaded this book after hearing Gail's story on the Music and Spoken Word by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert (Dec 2012). When that DVD comes out in 2013 for Christmas, buy it. It was an amazing presentation! After watching it, I had to read about it so I found this book on Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle app. Wow! I read it in a little over and hour and could not put it down! I loved it! It moved me, warmed my heart and made me want to be a better man! This is a great story for all ages. I am now going to assign my kids to read this book. It does a great job of explaining, though briefly, the historical context. It also has heart warming letters from children and stories of what happened to Gail after the airlifts ended. Truly: "From little things come big things" as Gail's father taught him as a boy!!!
Read this book. You and your kids (probably 4th graders up) will enjoy it!!
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